“I think the people of Summerland should know what is going on up there and it should be stopped,” said the owner of the Dollar Store. “People are going to react and say this shouldn’t be happening in our town.”
Paul Pearcey is one of the tenants living in the Pleasant View Motel and RV Park. He and his wife have been renting one of the trailers at the RV park and paying $700 a month, he said, though the trailer has nothing working in it.
“The propane stove doesn’t work, the plumbing doesn’t work properly, there is black mould in the trailer and this whole area is infested with ants,” he said. “One of the electrical outlets caught fire one night and I had to put it out. The wiring in the trailer is faulty.”
Others, Pearcey said, have even less, pointing out a blue car with a tarp over it, which, he said, the motel owner was renting out for $500 per month. Another unit, a dilapidated van with an extension cord running through the window, has also been rented out, according to Pearcey.
Summerland bylaw officer Gary Ellis went out to investigate the situation on Oct. 1, only looking into the two abandoned vehicles as he had no complaints at that time about the trailers in the RV Park.
“I talked to the people in the vehicles (old van and car) and they said that the owner had evicted them and that they would be complying with the eviction.”
Ellis added that he will be visiting the site again to re-inspect the situation.
Pleasant View is owned by Shanguang (Walter) Wang who claims all of the units he rents are properly serviced, and in good condition when he rents them. If there is a mould problem, he adds, it was caused by the tenants living in them.
Wang said it just wouldn’t make any sense for people to rent units without water and other services.
“Who would be that stupid?” he asked, adding that he has problem tenants, but laws make it hard to evict them quickly, like one tenant that was living in a car over the summer.
According to Wang, they owed him “thousands of dollars” in back rent from living in a Penticton motel he also owns. When he evicted them earlier this year, they claimed to have no place to go, so he told them they could set up a tent at Pleasant View until they found a new home.
They weren’t, however, paying rent. Tenants like that, he said, caused him problems by making a mess and refusing to clean up when ordered.
Carter said he became aware of the problem after a series of thefts he attributes to some of the people living at Pleasant View.
“We know there are two or three people from up there that we keep an eye on whenever they come down,” Carter said. “We have to escort them through the store.”
But theft is a common problem and can happen anywhere, Carter said. The real problem, he said, is that the owner of the motel should not be renting out the vehicles.
“A lot of these people are downtrodden and I guess it is a catch-22 as there is no place for them to live,” he said. “I am sympathetic to a degree, but it’s hurting me and our company.”
Pearcey said they are looking for a different place to live, but that it was not easy to find some’thing in Summerland. His wife has a drug problem she is trying to kick and they just recently had a baby. He said they will not be allowed to bring the baby home unless they find a more suitable place to live.
Another tenant living in the RV park said the landlord should be commended for trying to help people on low incomes and for giving them another option. He said people were happy to rent a vehicle if it meant they would have a roof over their head. He wished to remain anonymous because of concerns for his safety.
Constable Jacques Lefebvre of the Summerland RCMP would not comment on the situation, except to state an investigation is underway.